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  • 1 Beijing Forestry University College of Nature Conservation Beijing 100083 China
  • | 2 Chinese Academy of Sciences State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany Beijing 100093 China
  • | 3 Snow and Landscape Research Swiss Federal Institute for Forest Zürcherstrasse 111 CH-8903 Birmensdorf Switzerland
  • | 4 Sichuan Academy of Forestry 18 Xinghui West Road Chengdu 610081 Sichuan, China
  • | 5 University of Applied Sciences Zürich-Wädenswil (ZHAW) Grüental Postfach 335 8820 Wädenswil Switzerland
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Small-scale vegetation patterns are frequently the results of plant-plant interactions such as facilitation and competition. Facilitation should be particularly pronounced when both abiotic and biotic stresses are high, but few studies were conducted in such habitats. In heavily-grazed pastures on the eastern Tibetan Plateau, an area with both high abiotic stress and strong biotic disturbance, we made relevés of herb species both beneath and outside canopies of three shrub species (Spiraea alpina, Sibiraea angustata and Potentilla fruticosa) differing in palatability and canopy structure. Herb species richness (S), pooled cover (PC) of all species, number of flowering species (FS) and number of inflorescences of all species (IN) were greater outside than beneath the shrub canopies. Evenness (J), in contrast, was smaller outside, while Shannon’s diversity index (H) was the same. Differences in S and J between plots beneath and outside the shrub canopies were greater in the case of P. fruticosa than in the cases of S. angustata and S. alpina, but differences in PC, FS or IN did not depend on the shrub species. Among the common species (frequency ≥6), 47–85% were equally frequent beneath and outside the shrubs, 13–39% were more frequent outside and 3–13% were more frequent beneath the shrubs. For the rarest species (frequency < 6), however, more species occurred beneath than outside the shrubs. The ordination diagram showed a clear separation between the relevés outside and beneath the shrubs and a gradient from P. fruticosa via S. alpina to S. angustata, accompanied by a distinct decrease in the extent of the difference between the vegetation beneath and outside the shrub canopies. In conclusion, the three shrub species facilitated some species in the herb layer and each shrub species had a specific impact, related to its canopy structure and palatability but also to the grazing pressure, which was greater around the P. fruticosa shrubs than around S. alpina and S. angustata.

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Senior editors

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Podani, János

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Jordán, Ferenc

Honorary Editor(s): Orlóci, László

Editorial Board

  • Madhur Anand, CAN (forest ecology, computational ecology, and ecological complexity)
  • S. Bagella, ITA (temporal dynamics, including succession, community level patterns of species richness and diversity, experimental studies of plant, animal and microbial communities, plant communities of the Mediterranean)
  • P. Batáry, HUN (landscape ecology, agroecology, ecosystem services)
  • P. A. V. Borges, PRT (community level patterns of species richness and diversity, sampling in theory and practice)
  • A. Davis, GER (supervised learning, multitrophic interactions, food webs, multivariate analysis, ecological statistics, experimental design, fractals, parasitoids, species diversity, community assembly, ticks, biodiversity, climate change, biological networks, cranes, olfactometry, evolution)
  • Z. Elek, HUN (insect ecology, invertebrate conservation, population dynamics, especially of long-term field studies, insect sampling)
  • T. Kalapos, HUN (community level plant ecophysiology, grassland ecology, vegetation-soil relationship)
  • G. M. Kovács, HUN (microbial ecology, plant-fungus interactions, mycorrhizas)
  • W. C. Liu,TWN (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, temporal dynamics, including succession, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment)
  • L. Mucina, AUS (vegetation survey, syntaxonomy, evolutionary community ecology, assembly rules, global vegetation patterns, mediterranean ecology)
  • P. Ódor, HUN (plant communities, bryophyte ecology, numerical methods)
  • F. Rigal, FRA (island biogeography, macroecology, functional diversity, arthropod ecology)
  • D. Rocchini, ITA (biodiversity, multiple scales, spatial scales, species distribution, spatial ecology, remote sensing, ecological informatics, computational ecology)
  • F. Samu, HUN (landscape ecology, biological control, generalist predators, spiders, arthropods, conservation biology, sampling methods)
  • U. Scharler, ZAF (ecological networks, food webs, estuaries, marine, mangroves, stoichiometry, temperate, subtropical)
  • D. Schmera, HUN (aquatic communities, functional diversity, ecological theory)
  • M. Scotti, GER (community-based ecological theory and modelling issues, trophic interactions, competition, species response to the environment, ecological networks)
  • B. Tóthmérész, HUN (biodiversity, soil zoology, spatial models, macroecology, ecological modeling)
  • S. Wollrab, GER (aquatic ecology, food web dynamics, plankton ecology, predator-prey interactions)


Advisory Board

  • S. Bartha, HUN
  • S.L. Collins, USA
  • T. Czárán, HUN
  • E. Feoli, ITA
  • N. Kenkel, CAN
  • J. Lepš, CZE
  • S. Mazzoleni, ITA
  • Cs. Moskát, HUN
  • B. Oborny, HUN
  • M.W. Palmer, USA
  • G.P. Patil, USA
  • V. de Patta Pillar, BRA
  • C. Ricotta, ITA
  • Á. Szentesi, HUN



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Community Ecology
Language English
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Founder Akadémiai Kiadó
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Springer Nature Switzerland AG
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ISSN 1585-8553 (Print)
ISSN 1588-2756 (Online)